The Colts lost. The big game with the New England Patriots turned out badly for Colts fans, and we are left wondering, “What if Marvin Harrison had been able to play?” Now comes the big test for Colts fans: will we still be True Blue? Last week it seemed most everyone in the Indianapolis area was wearing their blue Colts shirts. Will those shirts disappear this week?

It is not easy to be loyal, or true blue, when our team loses. Think how tough it must be for Notre Dame fans this year. Most all of us have had years when our favorite teams have been “down” and losing many games. Are we loyal during those lean years? If so, it makes the winning years all the more sweet.

Loyalty seems to be out of favor these days. Experts tell us that people are no longer loyal to their churches, their clubs, their teams, or even their families. We all have so many other choices, and it is easier just to give up on our team/church/club/family and move on to someone else to look for a winner.

Even Jesus faced such a test with his disciples. The Gospel of John (chapter 6, verse 60-69) records a time when the crowds began to fall away from Jesus, and he turned to his close disciples and asked, “Are you also going to leave me?” The crowds fell away because it was starting to get tough to be a disciple. Jesus had started to talk about sacrificial love, and the crowds – those who had enjoyed his miracles, eaten his food, listened to his teaching, and seemed attracted to a winner – those same crowds began to leave Jesus.

Do you hear the sadness in Jesus’ voice when he asks, “Are you also going to leave me?” To his credit, Simon Peter responded, “To whom would we go? You have the words of life!” Unfortunately that loyalty did not last, and on the night of the Last Supper and the betrayal of Jesus, all of his disciples forsook him and fled.

It is not easy to be loyal. It is not easy to be loyal when things are not going well at our church, when we don’t like our current pastor, or when we disagree with the vote of the church to change worship times. It is not easy to be loyal to our faith when life is tough, when things are not easy and smooth. It is so easy to be loyal when we are on a winning streak, but that loyalty is really tested when we lose one or two or more.

Are you True Blue? Not just to your favorite sports team, but to all of your commitments?

I think I will wear my Colts shirt this week. We lost one game, but the season is not over, and more importantly … I want to practice being loyal.

from Bishop Michael J. Coyner